Friday, November 7, 2008

Syndicate19 Drummer Wins Maine, Heads for Massachusetts

Leigh Leavitt, 28, of Wells, will be representing Maine in the Guitar Center’s Drum Off competition in Natick, MA on November 11th.
Leavitt is one of 4,000 drummers across the country that began competing this past September at Guitar Center stores nationwide. He is now one of the 214 contestants competing at a district level at 24 locations. The Guitar Center’s Drum-Off Champion will be crowned next January after 2 more rounds of competition – regional and grand finals.
Each contestant performs on a 5-piece acoustic drum kit complete with hardware, cymbals, cowbell and throne. The only personal pieces of gear each contestant can use are their own drumsticks, bass pedal, drum throne and snare drum.
Those who saw Leavitt playing at the South Portland store preliminaries and store finals a few weeks ago could witness his diverse and powerful drum solos. With only 5 minutes to set up and 3 minutes to perform, Leavitt had the audience’s attention captured from the second his drumsticks hit the drums. In Natick, MA, Leavitt will perform another 3 minutes solo.
Born in Hawaii, but raised in Northern Maine to New Hmpshire, Leavitt began playing drums at the age of 14. His father Jay Leavitt taught him how to play drums, inspired and encouraged him in every step. His practicing and persistence paid off within a few years when he joined a few different local bands such as Sanguinus Feminae (NH), Mourningside (MA), Psyren (ME), and a Boston hardcore punk band Toxic Narcotic for a very short time.
Leavitt’s friends call him Affable Maverick not without a reason. It is common to see him with vivid zebra contacts, a mohawk or a shaved head on a regular basis. His over spilling individuality and creativity makes him stand out of the crowd. The musician’s drumming style is a mix of metal, funk, jazz and progressive. His influences are Terry Bozzio, Dennis Chambers, Mike Portnoy, Danny Carrey, and a few more.
Now the South Portland store Drum Off winner is a full time drummer for a local Southern Maine (Wells) band called Syndicate19. Leavitt and his band mates Paul Chase, Randy Runnels and Mike Tomasini can be seen playing at some local venues on a regular basis. You can find their schedule and also watch Leavitt’s solo videos on
The Drum Off grand finals winner will walk away with a prize package that includes $25,000 Cash, $2,000 Guitar Center Shopping Spree, a write up in Modern Drummer magazine, Monster Energy Drink Endorsement Deal and a lot of different drum equipment with a total prize value of $45,000.
Previous Drum Off winners have gone on to enjoy successful music careers, record albums and tour the world with noteworthy artists. Drum Off Champion 2002, Cora Coleman, is currently performing with legendary recording artist Prince. Eric Moore II, Drum Off 2003 Champion, has also achieved notoriety by performing with psychedelic funk band Sly and the Family Stone as well as singer Bobby Brown.
This article was submitted by Vaida Lowell, freelance journalist.
Caption: Leigh Leavitt plays at the Guitar Center’s Drum Off competition, South Portland store finals. (Bridgett Owen-Chase)